Mind your language!
The British Library wants the public to tell it how pronunciation is changing in Britain.
The Library is asking volunteers to record a chapter from a book so that it can see how words and accents have changed.
Anyone who knows me will realise that English is one of my pet subjects. I’ll go on incessantly about how the language is changing – and not for the better.
The Library says youngsters are more likely now to say “haitch” rather than “aitch” when pronouncing the letter H. They often say “mischeevy-us” rather than “mischievous” and “grievious” rather than “grievous”. But when I went to school there was no “h” in aitch, no “i” in mischievous and no “i” in grievous – so why should one appear now?
Today the influence of American television is everywhere. That’s why many youngsters say “skedule” rather than “schedule”. But I can’t see how the practice of using the hard-sounding “the” before a vowel – for example, “the end” instead of “thee end” – has become so common.
It’s a huge fault of the English education system that the language has been allowed to get into such a state. I realise that English is an evolving language and grammar is changing. For example, infinitives are split all the time: “to boldly go where no man has gone before” is heard at the beginning of Star Trek episodes and no one complains too loudly about the poor use of grammar.
But my argument is you should be aware of the rules of grammar before you choose to ignore them. I always use the phrase “30 miles an hour” because it’s more colloquial than “30 miles per hour”. I know when I’m breaking the rules – but so many other people don’t.
It’s time we stood up for grammar and its proper use.